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SPORTS DIGEST: USC recruiting class ranks in top five nationally

USC again won the local recruiting war of incoming football talent against crosstown rival UCLA.

The Trojans announced a 23-member signing class Feb. 1 that several media outlets ranked in the top five nationally.

UCLA signed 18 incoming players in a class that was ranked No. 18 nationally by ESPN.com, No. 19 by Rivals.com and No. 21 by Scout.com.

Five players who signed with the Trojans have already enrolled in school and will be eligible for spring practice. They include long snapper Damon Johnson of Citrus Junior College, linebacker Tayler Katoa of Layton High School in Utah, quarterback Jack Sears of San Clemente High School, defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu of Central High School in Independence, Oregon; and offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees of Kingsburg High School in Central California.

Players signing with USC who have local ties include linebacker Hunter Echols of Cathedral High School, and athlete Greg Johnson and wide receiver Joseph Lewis IV, both of Hawkins High School in South Los Angeles.

Other key recruits include defensive back Bubba Bolden from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, the top high school in the country this past season; and running back Stephen Carr from Summit High School in Fontana.

USC head football coach Clay Helton also was happy with his recruiting class, which was ranked in the top five nationally by many media outlets. ‘We are extremely pleased to welcome this group of young men to the Trojan Family,’ he said. (Photo by Mario Villegas)

USC head football coach Clay Helton also was happy with his recruiting class, which was ranked in the top five nationally by many media outlets. ‘We are extremely pleased to welcome this group of young men to the Trojan Family,’ he said.
(Photo by Mario Villegas)

“We are extremely pleased to welcome this group of young men to the Trojan Family,” USC head coach Clay Helton said. “They not only are outstanding players but they are quality people from amazing families.

“In my seven years at USC, I have seen what an unbelievable product we have to offer at USC. I also have seen how important relationships and staff consistency are to the young men who sign with us and to their families.

“I congratulate our staff for securing such a talented class and I thank them for the hard work that made today possible. This class will join with our returning players to produce a team that will make the Trojan Family proud.”

Among UCLA’s top recruits was Darnay Holmes, a two-way star at Calabasas High School.

UCLA head football coach Jim Mora was pleased with his signing class that was ranked as high as 18th in the nation by ESPN.com. Of top recruit Darnay Holmes, Mora said: ‘He will have the ball in his hands.’ (Courtesy photo)

UCLA head football coach Jim Mora was pleased with his signing class that was ranked as high as 18th in the nation by ESPN.com. Of top recruit Darnay Holmes, Mora said: ‘He will have the ball in his hands.’ (Courtesy photo)

“I don’t want Darnay to have a career where he never settles into a position,” head coach Jim Mora said. “That would be a mistake. It also would be a mistake not to take a guy like Darnay, who has the explosive skills set with the ball in his hands, and not use it. He will have [the ball] in his hands.”

Holmes was listed as the 13th best player nationally on Scouts.com’s ranking and the best cornerback.

On offense, he caught 69 passes for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also returned kicks.

Players with local ties who signed with the Bruins include Martin Andrus, a defensive lineman from Los Angeles High; and Rahyme Johnson, a linebacker from Salesian High in Boyle Heights.

The Bruins also signed Quentin Lake, a defensive back from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana. Lake’s father, Cornell Lake, was an All American safety at UCLA before playing in the National Football League.

Defensive lineman Jaelan Phillips from Redlands East Valley High was the top recruit in the state according to 247sports.com. He has already enrolled at UCLA and will participate in spring practice.

The top high school player in the area to sign a letter of intent on national signing day was St. John Bosco offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, who signed with Ohio State. Davis is the grandson of NFL Hall of Famer Willie Davis, a defensive end for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s.

Other local players to sign letters of intent at Division 1 colleges and universities included: Deommodore Lenoir, a corner back from Salesian High who signed with Oregon; Terrell Bynum, a wide receiver from St. John Bosco who signed with Washington; Jamire Calvin, a wide receiver from Cathedral High who signed with Washington State; Anthony Pandy, a defensive end from Narbonne who signed with Arizona; Rhedi Short, a safety from Cathedral who also signed with Arizona; Tysyn Parker, a linebacker at Serra High who signed with San Jose State; Jacob Callier, a defesnive end from St. John Bosco who signed with Colorado; Jeffrey Manning, a defensive back from Cathedral who signed with Oregon State; Boe Tufele, a defensive tackle from Narbonne who signed with Georgia Tech; and Nick Pickett, an athlete from Saelsian, who signed with Oregon.

Other local signees included Berkeley Holman, a wide receiver from St. John Bosco who signed with Northwestern; Patrick Jeune, a wide receiver from Morningside in Inglewood who signed with Fresno State; Wylan Free, a defensive back from Carson who also signed with Fresno State; Ben Holmes, an offensive lineman from St. John Bosco who signed with the University of Idaho; Jamaal Neal, a wide receiver from South Gate who signed with UNLV; Kristian Gilbert, a wide receiver from St. John Bosco, who signed with UC Davis; and Dejan Stuckey, an offensive lineman from Cathedral who signed with the University of Idaho.

More signings included Tre Walker, a wide receiver from Narbonne who signed with San Jose State; Dominic Peterson, a linebacker from Narbonne who signed with Nevada; Chris Green, a defensive lineman from Los Angeles High who signed with Nevada; Dylan Lemle, a dual purpose player from Hawkins High in South L.A. who signed with the University of Idaho; Arex Flemings, a wide receiver from Cathedral who signed with Oregon State; Antwone Williams, a defensive back from Dorsey High who signed with Portland State; Gregory Jordan, a defensive lineman from Dorsey who signed with Northern Arizona; Jalani Eason, a dual purpose player from Serra who signed with Portland State; and Deven Osborne, a wide receiver from Culver City High, who signed with Dixie State University in Utah.

USC recruit Greg Johnson from Hawkins High School in South Los Angeles could replace Adoreé Jackson as a two-way performer for the Trojans. Johnson starred on both sides of the ball for Hawkins last fall. (Courtesy photo)

USC recruit Greg Johnson from Hawkins High School in South Los Angeles could replace Adoreé Jackson as a two-way performer for the Trojans. Johnson starred on both sides of the ball for Hawkins last fall. (Courtesy photo)

SUPER COMEBACK: For once, the Super Bowl was indeed super.

The New England Patriots’ 34-28 win in overtime featured the best comeback in Super Bowl history, a stellar performance by quarterback Tom Brady who set records for most passes attempted, most passes completed and most passing yards; and an all-time collapse by the Atlanta Falcons, who got greedy with four minutes remaining when a field goal probably would have clinched the victory.

Leading by eight points with a second-and-one situation from the Patriots 22, the Falcons could have run the ball into the line for two plays and, if they didn’t get a first down, kick a 40-yard field goal after running the clock down to under three minutes.

Instead the Falcons tried to pass and quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked, moving the ball back to 34. On third down, the Falcons were called for holding, moving the ball back 10 more yards. After an incomplete pass, the Falcons punted the ball, giving Brady more than three minutes to work with.

Aided by a circus catch by Julian Edelman, Brady drove the Patriots to a touchdown and the tying two-point conversion.

The Patriots then won the overtime coin flip and that was the ball game.

The Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls this century and have won five of them. Head coach Bill Belichick might not have the best personality and he might try to bend the rules now and again, but you can’t argue with his results.

SUPER SOPHOMORE: Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s freshman point guard, has impressed a lot of people with his skills that almost certainly will take him to the NBA next year.

His little brother, LaMelo, who intends to follow Lonzo to UCLA in three years, turned a few heads Feb. 7. The younger Ball, only a sophomore, scored 92 points in a high school basketball game. His team, defending state champion Chino Hills, defeated Los Osos, 146-123.

Ball made 37 of 61 shots, seven of 22 from three-point range. The two teams combined for 269 points in a 32-minute basketball game.

That means they averaged scoring more than eight points a minute or one point every seven seconds. Incredible.

Chino Hills was coming off its first loss in more than two years. Apparently, LaMelo Ball doesn’t like losing.

 

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